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Religion

The Roman Catholic Church
The Jewish Community
The Orthodox Church in The Czech Lands and Slovakia
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church
The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren 

The Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Church in the Czech Republic and its beginnings can be traced back to the turn of the eighth and nineth centuries and even further to the German ecclesiastical centres in Bavaria. Later the Slavic apostles, Cyril and Methodius, missionaries sent to Moravia, had a great influence on the whole territory; nevertheless, the oldest shrine in the Kladno district, the venerable rotunda at Budec, where Saint Wenceslas (†935?) was a resident priest, is, ecclesiastically, again connected with the bishopric in Rezno.
In the early Middle Ages, the town of Slany was the economic and spiritual centre of the county. An enclave of Benedictines, apparently at the end of the 12th century, consecrated here the local Saint Gothard’s Church, and the records from 1331 already mention “the church and monastery of Slany“. The Benedictine provost at Saint Gothard’s in Slany focused on the spiritual life of the counties until the outbreak of the Hussite rebellion, during which this and many other vicarages in Kladno and Slany, died out. The gradual secularisation of the whole region after the Hussites, when Utraquism spread across the county, later found a stern opponent in the owner of Smecno, Jiri Borit of Martinice (†1598). He decided, in the spirit of the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563), to restrict further spreading of other religions and enforce Catholicism in his manor by all means. There where others who sided with the Lord of Smecno. A zealous devotee of the newly arriving Jesuits was Jiri Zdarsky of Zdar (†1574), and the convert Jachym Novohradsky of Kolowraty in 1568 allowed Jesuits to enter Bu|tehrad. Nevertheless, it was only Smecno that, thanks to its owners‘ social ambitions, became the real bastion of Catholicism. In 1587 the Prague bishop Martin Medek of Mohelnice consecrated a new church of the Highest Trinity and in 1602 a deanery was established. At the time of the accession of the irreconciliable Jaroslav Borita of Martinice (†1649), the overall relations in the Czech kingdom were already heading for disaster. The situation in Slany was exacerbated by the Martinic’s tough measures against other faiths in the Smecno lordship and, moreover, the overly zealous Jan Ctibor Kotva of Freifeld (†1637), later to become the provost of the canonry in Litomerice, worked here. And so, before the fateful year of 1618, the whole county was divided according to denominational lines; Slany, Velvary and several smaller lordships in the Slany county stood in opposition to the Catholic lords of Smecno and Kladno.
 After the Battle of the White Mountain our country was infamously identified with violent recatholisation in the spirit of the then principle: as the regent, so the religion. In the course of the Thirty Years War the parish administration was disrupted and after the Saxons’ invasion only the parishes of Smecno, Slany, and partially those of Kladno and Velvary, were occupied in the counties of Slany and Kladno.
In the second half of the 17th century the religious life of the region was stabilised. This state depended not only on the development of the clerical administration but also on the work of  religious organisations. Bernard Ignatz of Martinice was taken in by the Franciscans of Slany (1655), and in 1659 Frantisek Adam Eusebius of Zdar established a Franciscan monastery at Hajek u Cerveneho Ujezda. In 1658 a Piarist college of religious clerics was established in Slany. Their remarkable achievements, besides giving a number of children from Slany and its surroundings classical education, were even reaped by the religious administration as the graduates of the chapel’s college were the first important personalities of the region.
The following 18th century presents a further deepening of ecclesiastical life, mainly with the arrival of the Brevnov-Broumov Benedictines to Kladno (1795), where the Benedictine Abbot Benno Löbl OSB (†1751) together with Kilian I. Dientzenhofer gave the town its baroque contours. Under the patronage of the princely Kinsky family the prominent evangelist and the later vicar of the Rakovnik county,Jan Adam Svoboda, came to Zlonice, and in Smecno another prominent person was at work, the deacon and later vicar Antonin Frantisek Josef of Blanckenfeld. The Josephine period did not bring to our region the dissolution of monasteries as in other regions, nevertheless, the ecclesiastical authorities obtained a number of acts in conjunction with the state administration. The Benedictine abbot Stepan Rautenstrauch OSB supplied Kladno with a number of families from the Broumovsky lordship and in the framework of the so-called raabization (land reform) new courts of the landed estates arose – the core of today’s areas of Kladno - Rozdelov and Stepanov. The Benedictines took no part in the development of coal mining and the iron foundry in Kladno.
Of nineteenth century personalities we can mention the deacon of Velvary Vaclav Frantisek Vanek, the deacon of Slany Josef Kandler, the deacon of Budec Jan Nepomuk Lernohouz and the vicar of Kladno Josef Mottel. In Trebiz u Slaneho Vaclav Benes Trebizsky (*1849 †1899), a pupil of the Slany Piarist grammar school, who captured the fate of a number of generations of ordinary Slany people in his works, was born. In 1899 another important Czech literary figure – Jindrich Simon Baar, who completed his famous work Jan Cimbura in the secular Slany - came to Klobuk. In Zlonice we can mention Frantisek Kraus and Frantisek Komarek, who left Zlonice for the nearby Budenicek.
After 1918 the Roman Catholic Church recorded a marked drop in believers in the spirit of the campaign After Vienna, Rome, or Rome must be Judged and Sentenced. Gradually, however, their standing in the society strengthened again. The first Prague archbishop of the new Czechoslovak Republic, Frantisek Kordac, advocated the building of churches in Kladno-Rozdelov and in Kladno-Krocehlavy. From the personalities of the Catholic Church we can mention Mons. Frantisek X, Rudolf from Zlonice, Josef Skala from Kladno, and later Josef Kloucek. In Vrany, Frantisek Vrabec was working, in Velvary Vaclav Seifert, in Stochov Karel Patocka, in Unhost Josef Melichar, in Smecno Josef Dvorak and in Slany Augustin Komanec.
The Nazi occupation and subsequent religious repression after 1948 meant a significant slowdown in the development of the Catholic Church and a delay in the reception of  important documents from the II. Vatican Council (1962 – 1965). Even tough persecutory measures against the Church were taken in our region. The Franciscan monastery in Slany was forcibly closed and a number of priests from Czechoslovakia were interned in the Franciscan monastery in Hajek in 1950s; many of them were sentenced to long prison terms after which were followed by the withdrawal of state approval. It wasn’t until after 1968 that a number of priests could carry out their religious services. Further persecution in the period of normalisation meant, above all, placing inconvenient priests in positions where the atheistic surroundings quite paralysed their activities.
After 1989, despite the apparent lack of clergy, an ecclesiastical administration was ensured for the entire vicariate of Kladno. At present, believers are preparing for a nationwide synod and in a number of synodic circles they are discussing the relationship of the Church and the society, in the spirit of the conclusions from the II. Vatican Council, which are reflected in all walks of Church life. Believers of the people’s God participate in a liturgy that is predominantly carried out in the vernacular and is enriched to a great extent with reading from the Scriptures as opposed to the previous pre-Council period. The Council emphasised the meaning of God’s word, which presents the spirit of theology. The doctrine of the Catholic Church is systematically dealt with in the Catechism of the Catholic church. Recently the Codex of Canonical Law was published; for believers the Documents of the II. Vatican Council have great implications. The most read periodicals are Katolicky tydenik (Catholic Weekly), Mezinarodni report (International Report) (11x annually) and more demanding papers are presented in the Teologicke texty (Theological Texts) (bimonthly).
The Catholic Church differs from the Evangelical Churches mainly in the fact that, besides the Scriptures, which are a real pillar of faith, especially after the II. Vatican Council, it also takes on the ecclesiastical tradition and the Church’s teaching office (Magistral); the Roman Catholic church communicates seven sacraments – the sacrament of baptism, the sacrament of confirmation, the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, the sacrament of anointing the sick, the sacrament of holy orders and the sacrament of matrimony.
The Roman Catholic Church has a hierarchical structure headed by the Pope, the representative of Saint Peter. The basic units are particular Churches, in the majority of cases dioceses (with its residence at the archbishop – archdiocese) and parishes. The county of Kladno belongs to the Prague archdiocese headed by the Prague archbishop Miloslav Cardinal Vlk. The Pope appointed an auxiliary bishop, whereas Mons. Jaroslav Skarvada became the general vicar and two other auxiliary bishops, Vaclav Maly and Mons. Jiri Padour, are bishop vicars.
The archdiocese of Prague is then divided into the aforementioned parishes, which are legal persons and make up its basic elements. The parish rector is appointed by the bishop of the diocese.  The parish always has a seat in the community at the parish church, where baptisms are carried out (the so-called baptism font). Besides the parish church they also run filial churches. In the case of the parish being unoccupied, the bishop of the diocese appoints an administrator, who has the same duties as the rector. In the following text the main representative of the rector or administrator is presented under the deep-rooted description of chaplain. The county vicar has a competence of  more or less of organisational and co-ordinational nature in the vicar’s territory; nevertheless, he can, on the basis of the diocesan Bishop’s authorisation, carry out visitation acts. Vicarships are not an obligatory interlink, but they have their tradition in our country and fulfil their purpose. A large part of Kladno county is included in the Kladno vicarship overlapping part of the counties of Prague west and Louny. Part of Kladno county is also included in the Podripsky vicarship (Velvary, Chrzin) and the Rakovnik vicarship (Bratronice).
According to the Catholic church, a person becomes a member of Christ’s Church through baptism; all baptised are then priests in the general sense of priesthood, some of them, however, through ordination, become the serving priesthood (hierarchical). The Catholic Church distinguishes three degrees of ordination: deacon, priest and bishop.
Some Catholics have decided to preserve the three holy orders – penury, obedience and cleanliness in celibacy and live in institutes of a devotional life or in societies of an apostolic life. At present, one of the mendicant orders – the order of the Dniscalced White Friars in Slany – is operating in the region. The Unhost parish has been under the administration of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star since 1329.
Other persons in the Church are authorised to perform special services – lectors and acolytes, who assist in holy mass. The assumption of the diaconal ordination is that candidates have already executed these services; catechists that give religious lessons have a special authorisation for their activities from the Church superior, i.e. the so-called canonical mission. In our country there is a number of ecclesiastical schools and candidates for priesthood, and a number of other Church co-workers study at the Catholic Theological Faculty.
One of significant vicariate actions was the National Saint Wenceslas Pilgrimage to the Venerable Budec, where the representatives of the Church and the lay public have been meeting since 1990; furthermore there is the pilgrimage to the traditional Virgin Mary’s place in Turany u Slaneho. In the sense of the conclusions of the aforementioned Council and other documents of Pope John Paul II, increased attention is being paid to ecumenical co-operation. Church representatives regularly participate in ecumenical meetings in commemoration of the death of Jan Hus and in the week of prayer for Christian unity.
Website  (in Czech only)

The Jewish Community
The Jewish community of Prague has a long and rich history, which stretches back to the tenth century. At that time, Jews lived beneath the Prague Castle in today’s Mala strana (Lesser Town), around the 12th century they started to move across the river not far from the Charles Bridge. During the century their settlement grew into the Jewish Town with its own representatives, judiciary and extensive autonomy, which was separated from the Christian town by a wall. The exceptional significance of the community, besides its number of members and its cultural and economic wealth, consisted in the fact that up to the 17th century it also represented all other Jewish inhabitants of Bohemia in their relationship to the monarch and the country’s authorities. The fate of all the Jews in the country often depended on that of the Prague community; its history makes up a significant part of Jewish history in Bohemia.
For many centuries, Prague Jews lived in the ghetto. In its time it was the largest Jewish settlement in Europe. The institution of ghetto was broken up 150 years ago. The unique quarter was almost totally cleared, but even the fraction that remains is one of the rarest Jewish relics of our continent: the largest and best conserved cemetery (Old Jewish Cemetery, beginning of the 15th century), the oldest extant synagogue north of the Alps (Old-New Synagogue,13th century) and other temples, the Baroque Jewish Town Hall and a museum that is the second most significant one after the museum in Jerusalem and that contains the world’s largest collection of Jewish artefacts. There are hundreds of important people connected to the Jewish community – Rabbis, religious thinkers, philosophers, historians, writers and artists. From all of these we can remember at least one of the most forward Ashkenazi thinkers at the end of the Middle Ages: Rabbi LIPMAN M-LHAUSEN (15th century); the legendary philosopher, cabbalist and reformer JEHUDU LIVU BEN BECALEL, called Rabbi LÖW or MAHARAL (end of 16th century); the great Halachist Rabbi JECHEZKELA LANDAUA, author of Noda bi Jehuda (18th century); and the author FRANZ KAFKA.
As every other community, the Jewish community of Prague had its years of ascent and descent. Its golden age can be considered to be the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, above all the time of Rudolf II (1576-1611), when the ghetto was economically strong and populous and it used to be called Em be Jisrael. It was also one of the main Ashkenazi centres of learning and, in a way, the capital of the Jewish Diaspora. In Prague there were important Talmud schools (their tradition going back to the 11th century), significant literary and scientific works originated here and a Hebrew printing press has been published here from 1512. The modern form of Chevra Kadisha arose here, which became a model for similar institutions all over the Ashkenazi world. Rabbi ELIEZER ASHKENAZI (1512-1586) was instrumental in its genesis and was also the primate of the Jewish town. MORDECHAI MAISL (1528-1601) , a court Jew and financier of Rudolf II, the richest man in Prague and the patron and builder of the ghetto also had a hand in it as well as the most important representative of the community’s spiritual life Rabbi JEHUDA LÖW. As one of the other important persons from this time it is necessary to remember the mathematician, astronomer and first modern Jewish historiographer, DAVID GANS, and the doctor, philosopher and astronomer, JOSEF SELOMO DELMEDIG. All of them are buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery.
The inhabitants of the Czech lands were divided more than once on religious and national grounds. The Jews had to decide which of the two enemies to side with and they often felt as if they were between a rock and a hard place. A similar situation occurred in the 19th century in the course of the so-called emancipation in which the Jews of western and central Europe broke themselves of the Middle Ages shackles of the ghetto. Two nations awaited Prague Jews at the gates of the ghetto, i.e. Czechs and Germans, and they had to choose one of them. The necessity to get on with two otherwise mutually unfriendly forces, the need and desire to attach oneself to one of the two cultures, to one of the two languages – it all had its onerous circumstances and consequences. However, not all the time. This special symbiosis of three nationalities in a small space of central Europe brought exceptional fruits in the spiritual area, above all in German literature. The Prague German literature represents quite an extraordinary phenomenon in world literature. Among its authors, the majority of whom were Jews, there is a number of exceptional writers and natives of Prague: FRANZ KAFKA, MAX BROD, FRANZ WERFEL, JOHANNES URZIDIL and many others. Even though their relationship with the Prague Jewish community as an institution was freer, their activities belong to one of the greatest times of the Jewish Prague.
Jews in Bohemia gained full citizenship rights in 1867. The fate determined that they could only use this right for seventy years and only two decades of them in a democratic republic, where they had quite free living and working conditions. It is not by chance that at the end of 1930s Prague became, as well as Paris, one of the main refugee centres mainly for the Jews who were fleeing from Germany and the annexed Austria. In March 1939 the Nazis started to occupied Prague. Thus started the largest pogrom in history during which the great majority of Prague Jews wound up as its victims.
Just as the case Jewish communities in other parts of Europe, the community in Bohemia was more or less subject to religious, economic or physical hostility. It is necessary to state that, until the time of the holocaust, there have never been such murderous rampages of this extent in the German speaking countries, Spain, the Ukraine or Russia. However, even here there were pogroms, the largest one being in Prague when at the Pesach of 1389 the ghetto was set alight and 3000 of its inhabitants murdered. Prague Jews, along with those from other parts of the country, were thrice expelled from the country, each time with an interval of two hundred years: 1541-64, 1744-48 and 1941-45. At the beginning of the Second World War there were 118 000 Jews living here. About 80 000 of them were killed in the Nazi concentration camps – their names are written on the walls of the ancient Pinkas Synagogue in Prague. At the beginning of  deportation to concentration camps (November 1941), there were 39 395 Jews living in Prague of which only 7 540 survived.
In the post-war years, many of the survivors left for Israel and other countries and another wave of emigration followed the Soviet invasion of 1968 – 1969. About 12 000 Jews stayed in Bohemia, the largest community being in Prague.
During the totalitarian regime, from 1948 to 1989, Prague’s Jewish community continued working even under very difficult conditions, i.e. under the scrutiny of state bodies, above all the secret police. It fulfilled its religious functions and became, after the fall of the communists (1989), a basis for the renewal of Jewish life in Prague.
Website  (in Czech only)

The Orthodox Church in The Czech Lands and Slovakia
The Orthodox Church in the Czech lands and Slovakia is connected to an inheritance given to our nations by the Slavic apostles Cyril and Methodius. After the suppression of their work in the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th century, the Slavic right was maintained up until the beginning of the 12th century in Czech lands and Slovakia, in the eastern parts of which it has survived to the day. This fact was not changed even by the forced union in 1649. In Bohemia and Moravia the Slavic liturgy did not die out even after the expulsion of Sazava monks. During the reign of Charles IV, Rome was forced to consider this problem several times and in the end allowed the construction of the Slavonic Monastery in Prague, where the eastern ritual was performed. The Hussites also seriously considered repeated unions with the Orthodox Church. In 1451 they sent a delegation to Constantinople, which entered into negotiations on the possible union with the Orthodox Church; however this promising diplomacy was interrupted by the Turkish conquest of Constantinople. Due to this, the Hussites lost the possibility of direct contact with the Orthodox Church and, in the course of time, orientated themselves towards the reformation coming from Germany.
The beginnings of the real renewal of the Orthodox Church in Czech lands, Slovakia and Ruthenia came in the second half of the 19th century. The revolutionary year of 1848 brought the first glimmerings of freedom. In Czech intellectual circles there was an awakening of interest: K. Sladkovsky, an eminent Czech politician and patriot, fighting for national rights and the initiator of the national theatre’s construction in Prague, converted to Orthodoxy as many others did. After 1870, when the first Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church took place and announced the Pope’s infallibility, opposition to this dogma was formed in the Roman Catholic circles and the Old Catholic Church, which immediately formed ties with the Orthodox Church, arose. Many Czechs that emigrated to find new homes in the Volin Governate of the Russian Empire also accepted Orthodoxy. The possibilities for Czech emigration to Volin were negotiated by the Czech representation (Palacky, Rieger, Erben, etc.) in 1869 at the Slavic Ethnographic Exhibition in Moscow. In Prague, from 1874, regular Orthodox services at St. Nicholas Church in the Old Town Square were carried out by a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was also appointed to the churches in Karlovy Vary, Frantiskovy Lazne and Marianske Lazne.
The jurisdiction of the Czech Orthodox Church was in the Greek Orthodox Community in Vienna and from 1893 in the Serbian Church Community of the same place. The conversion of Czechs to Orthodoxy in 1900 – 1908 was investigated by a ministerial council in Vienna that saw in it the danger of Pan-Slavism. As the Orthodox Czechs couldn’t unite themselves into a religious community under the Austro-Hungarians, they set up an Orthodox Talk in 1903 and later an Association of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Community in Prague, which was to prepare the basis for a religious organisation when the right time comes. That time arrived with the coup d’etat in 1918.
In the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian state, the Orthodox Church preserved its liturgical form with the old Church Slavonic language and the Carpathian chants, even though believers were violently forced to accept  formal religious union with Rome in the 17th century. This testifies to the undisturbed continuity of the Orthodox Church here. Only the orthodox Serbs in Hungary, as defenders of the state against the Turks legally enjoyed religious freedom and preserved their Orthodoxy. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Orthodox Church in the areas of Ruthenia and eastern Slovakia started to renew itself again, but the administration sorely punished these attempts. Even here there was a movement for the renewal of the Orthodox Church after the independent CzechoslovakState came into being. The strength of this movement surprised the politicians of the time.
At the end of World War One, the Czechoslovak Republic was born of the remains of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its liberal democratic structure allowed religious freedom. The Catholic reformation clergy showed real interest in the Orthodox Church after having their attempts refused by the Vatican. They looked about for a religious formation with an apostolic order, national liturgical traditions and married priests. Thus the original Czechoslovak Church came into being in 1920. It united with the national Hussite and Cyril-Methodius tradition and turned its eye towards the Serbian Orthodox Church. The public considered the beginning of the Czechoslovak Church movement as a renewal of the Catholic Cyril-Methodius cChurch, so no-one was surprised by their Orthodox and Slavic orientation. One of the movement’s leaders, who had a marked influence in directing it in this manner, was Matej Pavlik (later the Orthodox bishop of Gorazd). Whilst the bishop of Gorazd initiated an unshakable Orthodox orientation in the Czechoslovak religious movement, other currents soon surfaced, especially the liberally radical direction, which recanted the classical Christian dogma and ecclesiastical structures. This direction was taken by Dr. Karel Farsky.
Bishop Gorazd along with similarly thinking followers, was forced to leave the Czechoslovak Church Movement in order to remain a true Orthodox. Initially they joined with the Czech Orthodox religious community in Prague, where Bishop Gorazd was elected as their spiritual custodian; afterwards an eparchy (diocese) with a centre in Prague was created and, at the same time, Serbian ecclesiastical jurisdiction was accepted, whose legal continuity for the successor states to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was recognised by the Czechoslovak Republic. Bishop Gorazd started to build his eparchy with exceptional energy. He supplied it with liturgical books, textbooks and various educational papers. As an excellent musician he transcribed songs for choirs and put together the Book of Prayers and Songs for traditional singing. He wrote many studies, articles and a range of important books - among them even a Catechism, a work on Cyril and Methodius - and many legal writings. At the time of his activities, churches and chapels were built annually in every community from the funds raised by the believers and their gifts. In 1929 developments in the Orthodox movement in the Czechoslovak Republic led to the establishment of the second eparchy - the Czech eparchy and the Ruthenian eparchy. In Slovakia significant work for renewing Orthodoxy has been carried out by the emigrants who had gone to the USA during difficult times, converted to Orthodoxy there and were morally, financially and organisationally able to support the renewal of the spiritual communities. At the beginning of 1920s, this work was strengthened by both the work of the anti-Bolshevik Russian emigration and the establishment of the Orthodox monastery of Saint Iov Pocajevsky which was built in Slovakia under the leadership of archimandrite Vitali in the village of Ladomirova. With the setting-up of an eparchy both the Czech and Ruthenian Orthodox Church attained a number of canonical units, which made up the basis for building an autocephalous church in the territory of the Czechoslovak Republic.
These developments in the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia were, however, shaken by the events of the war years 1939 – 1945, which had the following consequences for the Orthodox Church: 1) after the break-up of Czechoslovakia a break down in the natural ties of both eparchies, 2) after the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia the breaking of ties with the Serbian patriarch (both eparchies were forced to submit to the Berlin Metropolitan during the war), 3) the martyrdom of Saint Gorazd and his companions after the patriotic support for the participants of the anti-Nazi resistance by paratroopers from England, who organised the assassination of the then Reichs protector Reinhard Heydrich and hid in the Orthodox church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Resslova street, 4) the subsequent persecution, carried out by the fascists, of the whole Czech Orthodox clergy and parts of the Church’s lay workers (256 priests and important Orthodox agents were executed, the others were deported for slave labour to Germany) and lastly, 5) the bureaucratic liquidation of the entire Czech Orthodox Church, the banning of its activities or its support, and the confiscation of its property (September 1942). In 1945 the life of the decimated Czech Orthodox Church’s eparchy was renewed in the liberated Czechoslovakia.
Post-war development brought fundamental organisational changes to the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia.  As Ruthenia had been politically separated from the Czechoslovakian Republic and incorporated into the USSR, it was necessary to independently organise the Orthodox Church communities in Slovakia that remained from the Mukacevo-Pre|ov eparchy. These communities expressed their acceptance of the Russian Church jurisdiction. The Czech Orthodox eparchy also decided upon a change in jurisdiction. The eparchial meeting on 8th November 1945 in Olomouc resolved to apply for a transfer of jurisdiction from the Serbian Church to the Russian Patriarch. The holy synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to accept them on 14th January 1946. At the same time, they set up a clerical Exarchate of the muscovite Patriarch in Czechoslovakia, which incorporated all of the ecclesiastical communities in the Czechoslovak territories. The Prague Bishopric was raised to an Archbishopric (later a Metropolitan). The nobleman Yelevferi (Voroncov), by decision of the muscovite Patriarch’s exarch, became the Prague and Czech Archbishop in Czechoslovakia.
The return of predominantly Orthodox Czechs from Volin in the Ukraine in 1947 brought with it the need to expand the number of existing church communities in the Czech eparchy. Therefore, on 7th December 1949, the eparchial assembly decided to set up another autonomous Orthodox eparchy of Olomouc and Brno. Its first elected bishop was the noble Lestmir (Kracmar). The independent Prague Eparchy, headed by Metropolitan Yelevferi was established on the 5th January 1950. In Slovakia the independent eparchy of Pre|ov was established, led by bishop Alexi (Dechterev). On the 28th and 29th of July 1950, a new Orthodox eparchy was constituted in Michalov, Slovakia. Its eparchial bishop was the elected noble Viktor (Mihalic), a former Roman Catholic canon, who, together with his believers, joined the Orthodox Church.
In 1948 a spiritual seminar was opened in Karlovy Vary for the Orthodox youth. In the following year it was transferred to Prague and in 1950 it was converted into the Theological Faculty in Prague, whose residence was transferred to Pre|ov and later a detached workplace in Olomouc was created. (Today it operates in the framework of the Presov University in Presov).
On 2nd October 1951 the exarchate council applied to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church for its blessing in bestowing ecclesiastical autocephality to the Orthodox Church in the Czechoslovak Republic. It was accepted by the synod’s decision made on 10thOctober 1951. The ceremonial announcement of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church’s autocephality took place on the 8th of December in the Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague, and on Sunday of 9th December the representative of the new Orthodox Church’s autocephalous Prague and whole-Czechoslovak Metropolitan Yelevferi ceremoniously took office.
In 1987 Bishop Gorazd was canonised as a new martyr in the cathedral church of Saint Gorazd I in Olomouc. In 1994 Saint Rostislav, a great Moravian priest, who considerably helped Cyril and Methodius with their apostolic mission in Great Moravia, was canonised in the cathedral churches of Presov and Brno.
The eighth local synod of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church held in Presov on 11th and 12th December 1992, reacted to the imminent creation of the independent Czech and Slovak Republics on 1s January. On the basis of its decision, the Orthodox Church in both states remained undivided, even though it had a different name: the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and in Slovakia.
The position of the Orthodox Church in the history of our nations has never been easy. However, just as in the past, the Church grounds itself on the living source of Christ’s gospels, and attempts at conveying them to the world in the traditions of proven and tested forms will continue to silently bear the sign of the cross and the salvation of the resurrection to this world, searching for the second and glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and in Slovakia does not long for the exercise of power, but, on the contrary, wants to silently and quietly bear witness to the fact that Christ’s love for mankind is persistent and irreplaceable and show the way to salvation from the threat of our sins. It will look back to the work in which it resides with its roots, to the mission of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius and their students, successors, admirers and upholders. It wants to help today’s man in his moral distress, answer the serious questions of his spiritual existence and apply its viewpoint to solving the basic questions of the human mission. Its missionary endeavours are aimed at sacrifice for the others, for each individual suffering person, for the nation in which they live and for the whole human community on the earth. It points to the city of God, new ascending from heaven to Jerusalem (Rev. 21,2,10), to the kingdom of Christ’s presence, which is already mysteriously experiencing here on the Earth.
Website (in Czech only)

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC) joined the family of Churches on 8th January 1920; at that time, of course, without the defining epithet „Hussite“. The primary reason for its declaration by the reformatory priesthood of the Roman Catholic provenance was the worsening situation for reformists and the experiences of the Christmas of 1919, when, in many churches, the mass was conducted in Czech instead of Latin. In the background of the CHC’s genesis it is necessary to see the modernist struggle to rehabilitate the gospels and the open attempts of plain Christians at creating a Church that is better and more devout to Christ, with reminiscences of the Hussite struggle, and the political liberation of the country in 1918 and its liberalisation and democratisation. The new Church had, by the end of its first year, half a million followers.
At the beginning of its existence the CHC, led by Dr. Karel Farsky, had to overcome many difficulties which resulted partly from the uneasy position in the state, where the dominant Church slowed down the state recognition of the new Church; and partly they were connected to the financial question: a new Church formation lives without any support and builds its choirs and oratories, often designated by the name Jan Hus, only thanks to the immense sacrifice of its members, the majority of whom came from the unpropertied social classes. The first decade was also a struggle for its overall orientation led by the Orthodox wing and the liberal one. The latter wing led by Dr. Farsky, became the definitive leading power during the first ordinary Church synod in 1924.
Dogmatically and theologically the CHC, during three decades, was determined by  „teaching the Christian religion“, approved by the synod in 1931 under the patriarchate of G.A. Prochazka (author prof. A. Spisar); more significantly, however, it was determined by the spiritual values of the liturgy, which, since the final phase, bears the name of K. Farsky. It makes use of the richness of the Bible and the best traditions of the general Church in the eastern and western directions. Its structure contains elements of the Roman Catholic mass, of course, reappraised radically enough in its interpretation: for example, in the section called Visualising it is a question of the real presence of Christ in the community of believers: „We are alive, however not us any  longer, Christ lives in us!“. We also see here several Orthodox features, all with the emphasis on the Scriptures and its actual interpretation in preaching, which forms the second liturgical peak. Initially, besides the liturgy, a great role was played by Farsky’s Hymn Book of Spiritual Songs and the Agenda. After the initial years, when the CHC expressed its faith in the apologetic manner and often professed rather to what it didn’t believe – as opposed to the older Churches. It, however, gradually came round to its own, quite positively argued dogmatic viewpoints, which then concentrated with a swing on intensive Bible study (prof. K. Statecny, prof. F. Kovar - later Church patriarch).
There is an attempt at overcoming the heritage of Catholic modernism and the era of theological liberalism, in which the first teaching generation of the independent Czechoslovak Hussite Theological Faculty (arising in 1950) in Prague participated.
Among the important persons of this quarter century we can mention prof. Z. Trtik (systematic theology), prof. O. Rutrle (practical theology) and prof. J. Manek (New Testament theology). For a number of years, work on the modern Catechism has been underway, the main standpoint of which consisted in the paper of prof. Trtik. It was discussed in various committees of the CHC and then approved by the sixth ordinary synod in 1971 under the title of „The Basis of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church’s Faith, with a Supplement of the Title of the Church about the Epithet „Hussite” ". In 1950s and 1960s, with a gradual swing to an unambiguously biblical orientation, it revised its standpoint to ecumenical movements, which resulted in 1963 in its entry into the World Council of Churches.
Recently, it has been finishing its revision of K. Farsky’s Liturgy, and new liturgical and hymnal productions are appearing. With its distinctive and, in the world view, relatively isolated synodic document, it became in 1981 „The bases of the Socially Ethical Orientation of the CHC“, which codified the attempts of the Church at fulfiling society’s life with the Spirit of Christ, its positive relation to the results of scientific endeavours and at striving for for peace and social justice in the world, including the engagement of every Christian and the CHC as a whole in realising God’s challenge. After the „Velvet“ Revolution from 17th November 1989, the Church‘s participation in moulding the society increased.
Website  (in Czech only)

The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren
The Bohemian Evangelical Brethren Church (BEBC) belongs to the Reformation (Protestant) Churches.
In its present form it arose in 1918 by joining the Calvin (Helvetian) and Lutheran (Augsberg) Evangelical Churches in the territory of Bohemia and Moravia, which have been acting here since the so-called „Tolerance Patent“ of 1781. Its name „Bohemian brethren“ espouses the Czech Reformation Church ensuing from the Hussite movement, in particular, the old United Brethren. In the Czech and Moravian territories it works in 258 parish congregations, including Nymburk.
The BEBC administers itself according to the principles of the Presbyterian Synods, which means that it is led at all levels by a council (elected) of elders (presbyters) and for decision-making concerning important questions the representatives of the whole Church meet at synods. The Church administration has three levels: the local (parish) congregations are associated into 13 wards – the seniorates, headed by the elders and the seniorate committee; the whole Church is administered and represented by the synod council headed by the synod elder.
Website  (in Czech only)

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